I was excited to see the products from Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services. As a matter of fact, it was hard to choose from the list of products offered to the TOS Crew. I asked for Write with the Best Volumes 1 and 2, as well as The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers. To be honest, I didn’t expect to get all I asked for, but the publisher was very generous and provided all three files.
Dealing with secure files
The folks at EDUDPS are not only generous, but helpful as well. Up front I’m going to tell you the biggest problem I had was the security protection on the files. The files are in PDF format, but enclosed within a password-protected security shell. I couldn’t figure out how to make the password work, but Theodore at EDUDPS sent email instructions that, followed step-by-step, allowed me to open the files. Another potential problem: You could only print out a file twice. If your printer burped or jammed halfway through a print job (which is what my printer’s doing these days), well… However, all you have to do if this happens is contact the publisher to get your print permissions reset.
Edited to add: Months later, I tried to access the files, only to find my permissions had expired. My advice to you: Print immediately and save in a safe place! (The publisher was kind enough to refresh our file permissions when I asked. Great customer service!)
Writing with the Best
The subtitle for the program is “Modeling Writing after Great Works of World Literature” — which is one of the things that attracted me to this method. You see, we’ve found modeling to be very effective in our homeschool, in art as well as in writing. That’s part of the beauty of copywork — copying models of good writing, which together with narration made up the bulk of our “writing” (I guess you could call narration an oral form of composition).
I had a hard time choosing between the two programs, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Looking at their Tables of Contents, I could see that they had some overlap, but there were some basics I wanted to cover, and Volume 1 was aimed at Grades 3-12 (meaning I could use it with all the girls), so I decided to start with Volume 1, designed to take 18 weeks. Together with Volume 2, you have a full year of writing, or you can stretch out the units, going more slowly, and complete Volume 1 in a year’s time.
The book is divided into nine units that build your student’s writing skills cumulatively. You start with descriptive paragraphs (object, place, character), then write a dialogue, and once you’ve had some practice with these, you move on to writing a short story, then a fable, using the skills you’ve already learned. Next you cover writing a friendly letter, and the final two units deal with poetry (simple rhyming verse and then something a little more involved, a ballad or narrative poem).
The lessons are short and practical. It’s clear that this curriculum was honed in real life, by use with real students. I’d say that this would work well for you if you (the homeschool teacher) are comfortable with writing and basic grammar concepts (parts of speech). The lessons use passages from classic works, like Robinson Crusoe, Wind in the Willows, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and more. Suggestions for additional passages are included in the supplemental material.
The lessons are well ordered. For each there is a literary passage (reproducible) used as an example and also a background for exercises, such as picking out parts of speech, or discussing writing concepts. Daily objectives are clearly laid out. A typical lesson at our house lasts anywhere from 10-30 minutes.
One of the things I love about Writing with the Best is the supplemental material. Both volumes have pages of helps for both teacher and student:
– Three characteristics that make the best writing the best (we found ourselves coming back to this again and again)
– Proofreading checklist (reproducible) and answer keys
– Grading Criteria (as well as “Learning Styles Suggestions and Other Ways to Augment the Curriculum” and the introductory “How to use this book”)
– Additional literary passages (as mentioned above)
– Finally, the “How to Write Guide” — which I put into a separate reference binder, as it includes specific instructions for all of the types of writing covered in the course.
In Write with the Best, Volume 2, the lessons cover poetry (free verse), business letter, note-taking, summaries, and outlines, persuasive and expository essays, literary critique and book review, newspaper article, and dramatic monologue. Volume 2 is more advanced, as you can see from the types of writing involved, and aimed at students in Grades 6-12.
Pricing and Ordering
You can order Write with the Best, Volumes 1 and 2 from the publisher’s website. Prices are as follows:
$19.95 e-book download
$22.45 printed pages (no binder)
$24.95 printed pages in 3-ring binder
$24.95 e-book download
$27.45 printed pages (no binder)
$29.95 printed pages in 3-ring binder
To read more TOS Crew reviews of EDUDPS products, click here.
Disclaimer: TOS Crew members were allowed to select from a list of products to review, and were given access to downloadable e-books in PDF format. No monetary compensation was involved. Opinions stated here are those of our own family.